Providing In-Home Senior Care for Families Around the County for 10 Years
Gary Franklin of Lothian started Response Senior Care 10 years ago after deciding he wanted to try business out on his own. His company provides in-home care, anything from medical and nursing care to personal care, light housekeeping and errands. Franklin said that his company aims to provide an alternative to institutional care for seniors.
“People say, ‘I want to stay in my home,’” Franklin said.
And while that is not always possible, Franklin’s company strives to make that possible for families in Anne Arundel County and surrounding areas.
Before starting his company, Franklin had spent 15 years as an administrator at Keswick Assisted Living in Baltimore. As a clinical social worker specializing in geriatric care for 35 years, he said that he saw a need for an in-home care business because there was a growing number of Baby Boomers who wanted to stay in their homes and not go into an institutionalized care setting.
After setting off on his own in 2004 to start his company, he hired Sharon Wollman, a registered nurse, in 2005. Wollman is still with the company. She said that aside from the medical aspect, they do all kinds of things for their clients.
“Personal care, grooming, meal preparation, grocery shopping, light housekeeping,” Wollman added.
She told the story of a client who liked to stop by Wendy’s for a fast food meal after grocery shopping with their caregiver.
Usually, the company’s work begins with a phone call. For example, maybe grandma is in the hospital and the family doesn’t know what to do or where to start with getting them the help they need. Or maybe a family has been handling things with grandpa at the family home and they’re overwhelmed with the care-giving and medical aspects of the job.
“We’re outside. We’re impartial,” Franklin said.
He said that in their 10 years in business, they have heard all kinds of stories. Elderly people who can no longer manage their finances—they’re not paying their bills—or maybe not taking their medications on schedule. Sometimes the family is simply too close to a situation, and they need a caregiver to come in so that they can step away. They have many cases where the family lives out of town or out of state and they need someone to check in on a regular basis.
Response Senior Care coordinates the care, takes patients to doctor appointments and ensures that the home is a safe environment.
Jeffrey Meighen hired Response Senior Care when his mother was ill. She passed away in January of 2013 after fighting a battle with cancer. He said that he in the months before her death, she was unable to be alone.
“While we watched her slip away, everyone on staff took time helping her to be comfortable and helping others understand and grieve. It was a wonderful experience overshadowed by a very sad time. I could not have asked for anything more during that time period. They are family to us,” Meighen said.
And family it really is, with Gary’s son, David, and wife, Johnnie, working in the business too.
Franklin said that what sets their company apart is that they are local and not part of a franchise. They are connected to the resources in the community and interesting in educating clients and even people who aren’t clients.
Whether they get the family as a client or not, Franklin said that they like to share the information and resources as part of educating the public about senior care. Sometimes they provide the information in the form of a referral to a care facility and are never hired. Other times they take on the case and provide in-home care — anything from home visits a couple times a week to 24-hour care.
Franklin said that sometimes facility referrals are a necessity.
“When the symptoms are appropriate—anger issues, or violence—that’s when it’s not safe for the client to stay in the home,” he said.
That’s why they counsel their customers to never make a promise to mom or dad that they won’t go into a facility.
“Never. Never. Never make that promise,” both Wollman and Franklin said. “You don’t know what will happen in the future.”
They currently have about 60 employees. They don’t use contract workers. Staff includes trained home health aides and certified nursing assistants. The company is licensed and insured.
The company can get things rolling with 24 to 48 hours notice, and they are available for on-call services. Their company provides services 24 hours a day.
“We had one client who would call when he needed Lact-Aid milk brought over,” Wollman said. “We always knew exactly what kind and where it was going.”